How Did The Piano Get Its Shape?

How Did The Piano Get Its Shape?

Have you ever wondered why pianos are shaped the way they are?

What’s more, there are two very distinct piano shapes – vertical (upright) and horizontal (grand). How did they both become so popular and widely accepted when they look nothing alike? 

If you look back at just the last 100 years or so, very little has changed in piano shape. People used either an upright or grand in their home, depending on how much room they had. In concert halls and music school, grands were preferred because of their tonal quality and ability to project out to an audience. 

Even when you head back 300 years, very little has changed in look and feel. Once today’s modern look was achieved, it worked. Though piano manufacturers have tweaked the process nonstop ever since, what you see today with acoustic pianos was very similar to what’s been produced over the past several generations. 

Of course, if you continue your journey back, you’ll find changes become more stark. 

The harpsichord is considered to be the start of modern day pianos. It was invented around 1700, and was a way to control the sound and make it easier to play. It came with two keyboards stacked on top of one another. No matter how hard you pressed down on a key, the sound produced was the same.

Move back hundreds of years before the harpsichord and you’ll find a clavichord, where keys were installed on more traditional harps and organs, making it easier to play notes and ensuring proper tone. 

Before that, string instruments were used to create sounds much like our modern day piano. Monochords used strings and movable bridges to change intonation as a person played. This video shows a monochord in action

Yet eventually, our modern day pianos were created to provide the best experience and make it easy to bring music into your home. Whether you select an upright or grand, it’s the perfect way to enjoy music everyday. 

What’s the best piano choice for your home?

An Easy Way To Find The Serial Number On Any Piano

An Easy Way To Find The Serial Number On Any Piano

Want to find out how much your piano is worth? The best place to start is by finding the serial number on your piano. This number is unique to every piano created. Think of it as the VIN number of the piano world. 

However, finding it is another story. Your piano is large, with thousands of tiny parts inside and out. The serial number is small. In most cases, serial numbers are seven or fewer characters, mostly numbers, but occasionally you’ll find letters too. 

Not every manufacturer puts the serial number in the same place. And depending on the make and the model, even that’s changed over time. 

Grand Piano

With a grand piano, the serial number can be placed in numerous areas. 

  • Some may print the serial number on a plaque on the inside of the rim or case
  • Some may stamp the serial number on the soundboard, top or bottom
  • Some may print and adhere a sticker to the back of the piano
  • Some may print the serial number behind the keyslip in front of the keyboard

Depending on the age and condition of your piano, you may have to give the inside of your piano a thorough cleaning to find the numbers. If restoration has occurred before, the numbers could have been covered up by upgrades. 

Upright Piano

Vertical pianos have less space to print the serial number, so it’s usually easier to find. You can usually find it by lifting the lid; look at the gold harp plate, and it’s usually there. If not, take a look:

  • On the top of the lid
  • On either of the side walls
  • On one of the hammers
  • On the back of the piano, often stamped onto the wood

Why is the serial number so important? Because this is the starting point to find out how much value your instrument has. A serial starts by telling you how old the piano is. When you combine this with the make and model, most dealers will instantly be able to tell you its worth. 

Keep in mind that this is the starting point. Care and maintenance also play a big role in value. But if you’re considering selling your piano, or trading up for a better one, finding your serial number is a great place to start. 

Selecting The Perfect Grand Piano For Your Home

Selecting The Perfect Grand Piano For Your Home

Whether you’ve been playing the piano for a lifetime, or have a strong desire to start something new, nothing can compare to owning a grand piano. Yet selecting the perfect grand piano for your home is a big decision. With so many brands and styles on the market, how do you know which one to choose?

Here at Coltharp Piano World, we’ve helped thousands of customers select the right piano for their needs. Finding the right piano is a personal process, but we’ve found there are a few basic things to consider before honing in on your final decision. 

Select The Right Size

It’s easy to get a little overwhelmed by the options when you come in and view our selection. What looks good on the showroom floor might not be the best choice for your home. Grand pianos come in many different sizes:

Small Grand – up to 5 feet

Baby Grand – 5 to 5 ½ feet

Medium Grand – 5’6” to 5’9”

Parlor or Living Room Grand – 5’10” to 6’1”

Semi-Concert or Ballroom Grand – 6’2” to 7 feet

Concert Grand – anything larger than 7 feet

The best size for your home depends on how much space you have for the final piano. 

Select The Right Color

While sound may be everything when purchasing a piano, looks are also important to ensure it fits the style of your home. Color creates mood and aesthetics, and can be considered as traditional, modern, or eclectic. Want a polished classical ebony piano? Or may new age painted to match your interior? There’s a piano for you. You’ll find different woods, including:

  • Mahogany
  • Rosewood
  • Oak
  • Walnut
  • Cherry
  • Maple

Choose satin or polished finishes. Or create your own. 

Select The Right Tone

The size of the grand piano and the soundboard and string length is what ultimately determines the tonal quality of the instrument. The larger the soundboard, the longer the strings, the greater the volume and tonal quality. If sound quality is your utmost priority, move towards the largest piano size possible for your room dimensions. 

Ultimately, sound is determined by size and craftsmanship, so it’s best to spend ample time researching the right manufacturer for your desires. We can help you determine with sound blends well with your expectations, and ensure you make the right purchase for your home. 

What’s the perfect grand piano for your home? With many different makes and models on the market, it can be a difficult decision. If you’re creating a music room in your home, let us help you finalize your decision. 

What’s The Difference Between Handmade and Mass Produced Pianos?

What’s The Difference Between Handmade and Mass Produced Pianos?

Thanks to the Industrial Revolution, we live in a world where everything can be made faster, easier, cheaper, etc. But speeding processes up isn’t always a good thing. 

In the piano industry, you have two choices when investing in a new instrument: uprights or grands. As a manufacturer, with that choice made, the pieces can easily be manufactured by an automated process, and assembled using mass production processes. 

But there is a difference between these mass produced pianos, and one that is assembled by hand. Yes, there are still companies that do it the old fashioned way. And it can be a big difference in sound. Is it worth the difference in cost?

Let’s start with one of the main differences that has a lasting impact – the piano harp.

The piano harp is a large, cast iron plate that gives a piano its structure. This is the form that holds string tension and must take over 20,000 pounds of tension to create sound. This harp is made from a single cast, which can be made in one of two ways. 

The first is wet sand casting. A template is made and is pressed into sand. Once removed, molten iron is poured into the mold, allowed to cool and cure for several months. This creates strength and alignment, both of which are necessary to ensure quality sound from an instrument. 

The other is vacuum casting. A mold is created of the piano harp intended to use in production. It’s lined with a special membrane, a vacuum sucks the molten iron into the layer, and the product is finished in record time. These harps require no seasoning, need less finishing work, and can be put into assembly line processing in no time. Meaning the number of pianos produced increases exponentially. 

Because of the way they are produced, vacuum piano harps are thinner, and create what some say is a tinier sound. Wet sand casting produces a thicker piano harp, and is refined by hand until it produces the quality the builder is looking for. 

This, of course, creates a more expensive instrument. But knowing every item on the piano was touched, strung, applied, and built in with a one-person, one-product process means your piano will be the best it can be. 

That doesn’t make mass produced pianos bad; instead, it gives you more flexibility with what you’re willing to pay and bring into your home.  

A handmade piano will have more value over the life of the piano. It may give you many more years of play before it requires extensive repair or restoration. It may be easier to maintain over the decades. 

But if your goal is to bring the love of music into your home today, with the thought of upgrading as you or your child progresses with your desire for playing, a mass produced piano may be your perfect choice. 

What piano is best for you? Stop by today and we’ll help you select the perfect piano for your home. 

Do Pianos Hold Their Value?

Do Pianos Hold Their Value?

Purchasing a new piano can be a daunting task. It’s not as easy as running to the sporting goods store and picking up a soccer ball. You can’t store it as easily as a new pair of sneakers. 

Purchasing a new piano is an investment in your future. Selected correctly, you can expect your piano to give you a lifetime of enjoyment. And whether you’re ready to move up in quality, or simply downsize and give the next generation an opportunity to play, pianos can be an investment that pays you back when you’re ready to sell. 

But how do you know which pianos hold their value? Is it based on style? Make? Brand? 

Every piano is different. It depends on all of that and more. Yet there are a few general principles that determine how much value a piano will hold over time. 

First of all, realize that pianos depreciate just like every major asset you own. As soon as you bring them home from the dealer, they start the depreciation process, sometimes losing as much as 20 percent in the first year alone. Then they continue to move downward depending on a variety of factors:

  • How well they are maintained
  • How much humidity impacts the parts
  • Replacement parts
  • Tuning, voicing, and other care

But not all pianos depreciate at the same rate. Mass-produced pianos are going to go down in value more than ones that are lovingly created one at a time. If you choose the best names in the business – Steinway, Bosendorfer, or Yamaha – they can actually go up in value over time. 

Why? Because of the quality. They’re that good. 

If you select a limited edition instrument, they also tend to hold their value and be more valuable in the resale market. These instruments have unique finishes or special components that make them wanted on the open market. 

Do pianos hold their value? The best answer is: it depends. If you want a high quality piano you can play for a lifetime, we can help you with that. If you care about long term value, we can help you with that too. Stop by today and consider your options from our complete stock of high quality instruments. You’ll find one you can love for a lifetime. 

6 Questions To Ask Before Buying A Piano From A Private Seller

6 Questions To Ask Before Buying A Piano From A Private Seller

Looking for a good startup piano for your child to begin on? Heading online will provide you with lots of opportunities to find used pianos. 

Unfortunately, finding a “diamond in the rough” can be difficult at best. If you purchase nothing more than a piece of junk, your child will never have the opportunity to understand what it’s like to create beautiful music. If the piano doesn’t sound right, there will be little to hold her attention. 

Private sellers simply want to get rid of their pianos. With just a few questions, here’s how you can protect yourself from purchasing a bad piano. 

Why are you selling?6 Questions To Ask Before Buying A Piano From A Private Seller

This may sound like a question many private sellers would hide behind, you’d be surprised at how much sellers are willing to give. Do they say things like: its sat in my garage for years, I just want more room? This is a sure sign of neglect. If they haven’t taken care of the piano, there is no way it’s going to be in tune, and create a great sound when you sit down at the keyboard. 

How old is the piano?

This gives you insight into how knowledgeable a seller is about the piano. How long have they owned it? Do they know the history? You can also use this to judge the history. If it’s just a few years old and it looks like it’s been around for a century, it’s probably not in the best working condition. 

Who played the piano? 

There’s a difference between allowing kids to bang away on it, or an adult using it to play and relax every day. 

Has the piano been well maintained?

If someone cares for their piano, they will quickly provide you with a maintenance schedule and all the steps they took to maintain it and keep it in good working condition. They may even have suggestions about technicians they’ve used to tune their piano in the past. They will also tell you if they’ve ignored maintenance, meaning the piano probably hasn’t been tuned in years. 

How often has the piano been moved? 

Not everyone uses professional piano movers. Regular movers don’t understand how to move this bulky, sensitive instrument. If a piano is moved frequently without the proper support, the internal workings of the piano are more at risk. 

How much do you want for it?

You’ll often pay a lot more for private pianos than you would from a dealer. Dealers know a piano’s worth. A private seller always feels a piano is worth more than it is, because of memories. And if they don’t charge anything at all – that’s probably the most telltale sign of neglect. If they don’t care about it, they haven’t done much with it. And that means it’s not going to play very well. 

Want a quality instrument your child will love playing? Start with the best. It’s the best way to give them a chance at loving the art of making music for life. 

What Piano Brands Should You Consider?

What Piano Brands Should You Consider?

When you’re in the market for a new piano, looking at all the different piano brands out on the marketplace can make it difficult at best. 

Like other products, if you purchase a high quality piano brand, you’ll know it’s made with care, meeting the high standards the brand name is known for. There are many manufacturers that have been around for decades, and still believe in doing things the old fashioned way. Many pianos were made lovingly by hand, with individual care put into every step of the process. 

For example, we sell high quality Bosendorfer used pianos. Bosendorfer continues to rank high on the quality scale, being one of the oldest and most prestigious manufacturers of acoustic pianos. They are known for their intricate hand-craftsmanship, and their inspiring, rich tonal quality. They don’t just produce a piano, they create a work of art. And they’ve been doing so since the early 1800s. What Piano Brands Should You Consider?

We also carry Steinway & Sons. Steinway & Sons have been manufacturing pianos since the mid 1800s. They are well known in the piano industry for creating some of the best pianos to own. When you walk into a home with a Steinway sitting in the middle, it instantly says quality. Steinway’s are also top of preferred pianos from the biggest musicians in the world. Because they are at the top of the preferred list, the pricing of a Steinway can scare some people away. They aren’t for the hobbyist, and instead, are preferred by people wanting high quality and to invest in a piano that will last a lifetime. 

Of course, there are many high quality manufacturers that are perfect for entry level too. Baldwin is one of the largest piano manufacturers in the US, having been founded in the mid 1800s in Cincinnati. While they are considered more affordable than Steinway’s, they are also known for their reliability and tonal quality. They have detailed craftsmanship and will increase in value if they are well cared for. 

Or how about Yamaha? This is probably one of the most recognized brands. They also top the affordability list. These precision-made pianos are crafted in Japan, and are some of the most widely used pianos in practice rooms and home studios. If you take up the piano and play in different places, chances are you will sit down at a Yamaha at some point in your career. 

These aren’t the only high-quality brands you should consider when you’re ready making a purchase. There are many piano brands that would be a perfect addition to your home. Have a question? The best way to see the difference is to stop by and take a look. We’d be happy to let you play several different brands and hear which would be the perfect choice for your home. 

What’s The Right Piano Model For Your Needs?

What’s The Right Piano Model For Your Needs?

A piano is one of the oldest modern day instruments we use. Head back to the early 18th century; the pianoforte was developed as an update to the older harpsichord. It gave pianoforte players the ability to play notes at different volumes, thus creating more variety in the music played. 

Today’s pianos haven’t changed much over the past few decades. If you want to purchase a new piano for your home, acoustic pianos are a great way to help you produce beautiful sounds. But no matter what your goals and needs are for selecting a new instrument, you’ll have to make a few decisions before you can start making music. What’s The Right Piano Model For Your Needs?

New or Used

Pianos are one of the few instruments where you can select old or new, and receive a high quality instrument. If you know what to look for. Because acoustic pianos haven’t changed a lot in the twentieth century, you can find excellent used pianos that make a great addition to your home. Always look for a piano that properly cared for by the owner if you’re selecting a used one. By trusting a reputable dealer, you’ll ensure you’re buying the highest quality piano for your money. 

Acoustic vs Digital

Of course, modern day changes have allowed digital to change the way we play piano too. Digital pianos don’t use strings to create sound. Instead, digital pianos record the sounds from high quality acoustic pianos and use that to create a rich, full sound. If the convenience of digital suits your needs, be sure you listen to the sound. Does it sound like a piano, or can you hear a tinny, more electronic sound? 

Upright vs Grand

If you have your heart set on bringing an acoustic piano into your home, you’ll have to decide between an upright or a grand. An upright stands upright – it’s taller than it is wide, and is a great choice when space is a factor. A grand piano is larger, with its body lying parallel to the floor. You’ll often hear a grand piano referred to as a concert piano, as it’s the most common piano used in performances. 

In general, a grand piano has a more full bodied sound. Many homeowners dream of having a grand piano on display, and it can add beauty and ambiance to any music room. 

Which model is right for you?

When shopping, consider what you’re goals and needs are. Will you be playing regularly or once in a while? Will you be making an investment that will last you years to come, or are you willing to upgrade in just a few years? 

Not sure? Why not stop by and see our full selection of acoustic pianos, both upright and grand. We can help you make the right selection for your needs.  

7 Things To Keep In Mind If Buying a Piano For An Institution

7 Things To Keep In Mind If Buying a Piano For An Institution

Are you purchasing a new piano for your church sanctuary? Or do you need a new performance piano for your theater? Looking to replace a piano for your graduate students? Or just need one for your beginning middle school students to start to play?

A lot goes into making the best selection for your needs. Chances are this is a purchase that will last for many years to come. How do you know you’re making the right purchase? 

Start With A Few Questions

Chances are you have some ideas for why you need a new piano. But if you haven’t put all of your needs to paper, do so before you start to shop. Who will be using the piano? How often will it be played? Will the piano stay in one location, or moved periodically from location to location? This will help define your needs. 7 Things To Keep In Mind If Buying a Piano For An Institution


Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, you can start to see what your budget can afford. Don’t select the most “bells and whistles” for your money. Instead, focus on quality. If this piano will last for years – decades – ensure you make the right selection to provide years of quality playing. 

Grand or Upright?

Sometimes the choice is obvious – you only have so much room in your location. But sometimes the choice isn’t so obvious. In most cases, uprights are more for practice areas. They take up less space and provide more workspace for music and scores. Grand pianos are more often purchased for locations where players will be performing, and learning the importance of tonal quality and function. 

Piano Size

Carefully consider your space before making a final selection. This is where a reputable dealer can help the most. If you buy a piano that is too large, you can waste money by not gaining the voice and tone quality the piano is capable of producing. A piano that is too small won’t fill the space with the rich sound you expect. Be open to both vertical and grand piano options, because moving from one to another might be your best option. 

New or Used Piano

If an acoustic piano is well cared for, it can last for decades. Sometimes a used piano can get you the sound and quality you’re looking for. However, this isn’t the time to select one solely based on cost. A lot goes into pricing out used piano technology. A reputable dealer can help you make the right selection for your situation. 

Acoustic or Digital Piano

Digital pianos continue to offer higher quality with every new make and model produced. Depending on your needs, either acoustic or digital can make great additions to your institution. Keep in mind that while acoustic pianos can last 30, 40, 50 years or longer without a lot of restoration, digital pianos often require upgrading every few years to keep up with technology. 

Piano Maintenance

While acoustic pianos can last for decades, they do require maintenance to ensure they stay in top condition. Tuning and repair should be a part of your maintenance routine every year; set a schedule with your local tuner who will help you keep your piano in top condition. While digital pianos don’t require tuning or annual maintenance, they do often require more frequent updates to ensure they provide you with the technology available. 

Have more questions about which piano is right for you? We’re here to help. 

How Do You Know How Much To Pay For A Used Piano?

How Do You Know How Much To Pay For A Used Piano?

Looking to bring a piano in your home? Sometimes your best choice is to find a good used piano. 

But how do you know how much it’s worth? 

Makes and models only go so far. You can’t always compare the same make and model together and expect to pay the same price. A lot goes into determining how much a used piano is worth. 

Of course, ultimately it depends on how much someone is willing to sell the piano for, and if they can find a buyer who is willing to pay the price. But how do you know the price you’re paying is fair? What makes a piano “good”? And is paying for one better than taking in a free model?How Do You Know How Much To Pay For A Used Piano?

Comparables – When you find what you think is a good deal, often the best place to start is by doing a little research. When comparing, you can start by taking in the make, model, and brand of the piano. You also have to consider things like age, condition, and location the piano has resided in throughout its life. It’s rare – almost impossible – to find two pianos with the same background. But by using an appraiser or a reputable dealer, you can determine the differences and make adjustments accordingly. 

Depreciation – Depending on the make and model, some pianos hold their value very well. If you can track ownership and location for the piano, some people prefer to take the original cost minus depreciation to calculate the used price. This valuation method can work well when standards are kept high, such as when the piano was kept in good condition in a theater or institution. 

Current Value – For some, the easiest way to value a piano is to determine what it would take to restore the piano to its original playability. If the piano is in good working order, has value based on its make and model, but in need of a little work, paying the difference can give you a fair price. This means you might have to perform a little renovation to bring it to proper working condition. But it can give you a great value for your money. 

Of course, finding the “diamond in the rough” is difficult for most consumers. That’s why trusting a reputable piano dealer can work in your favor. If you have a question about finding the right piano for you, we’re here to help.